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Study: Inhaled Cannabis Reduces Crohn’s Symptoms

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 13, 2013

    Inhaling cannabis reduces symptoms of Crohn’s disease compared to placebo in patients non-responsive to traditional therapies, according to clinical trial data published online ahead of print in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

    Researchers at the Meir Medical Center, Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology in Israel assessed the safety and efficacy of inhaled cannabis versus placebo in 21 subjects with Crohn’s disease who were nonresponsive to conventional treatments.

    Eleven participants smoked standardized cannabis cigarettes containing 23 percent THC and 0.5 percent CBD (cannabidiol) twice daily over a period of eight weeks. The other ten subjects smoked placebo cigarettes containing no active cannabinoids.

    Investigators reported, “Our data show that 8-weeks treatment with THC-rich cannabis, but not placebo, was associated with a significant decrease of 100 points in CDAI (Crohn’s Disease and activity index) scores.” (The CDIA is a research tool used to quantify the symptoms of Crohn’s disease patients.) Five of the eleven patients in the study group also reported achieving disease remission (defined as a reduction in patient CDAI score by more than 150 points).

    Researchers also reported that “no significant side effects” were associated with cannabis inhalation. Subjects in the study group reported improvements in appetite and sleep compared to those in the placebo group. Cannabis inhalation was also associated with “significantly less pain” among the participants.

    The study is the first placebo-controlled clinical trial to assess the consumption of cannabis for the treatment of Crohn’s.

    Israeli researchers had previously published observational trial data reporting that Crohn’s patients require fewer disease-related surgeries following their use of cannabis.

    According to survey data published in 2011 in the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, some one-half of Crohn’s disease patients acknowledge having used cannabis to mitigate their disease symptoms.

    31 responses to “Study: Inhaled Cannabis Reduces Crohn’s Symptoms”

    1. Eric says:

      Am I the only one that read this and thought:
      How did the people smoking the ‘placebo cigarette” not know it was a placebo….I mean obviously if it didn’t get them high, and the other ‘half’ got high….iunno.

    2. Cat Cassie says:

      What an amazing God given plant. No wonder the dea was so against any kind of testing or research on it. How many more lives will be destroyed before they admit they were wrong? How many more sick people will suffer for fear of going to jail? Enough is enough.

    3. im a ohio says:

      As Barbara Lucas goes so goes cannibis prohibition
      many like her realize how backwards current policy is
      With the great strength blogs like Norml have, we all get
      to make contact and tell our story and speak our minds.
      So it won’t be long for this wisdom to spread to all
      And we will all be the better of it. Hold on Barbara peace is coming.

    4. Craig C. says:

      I’m glad it works for a lot of people to get in or close to remission but it definitely has NOT done that for me and I’ve tried a lot of different preparations.

      Don’t get me wrong. It helps with pain, relaxation, sleep, calming me down after cramp attacks and if taken orally does help reduce gastric emptying or times going to the bathroom. It does help with hunger but i’m still not eating enough because crohn’s has stripped away my desire to eat during this flare. The munchies aren’t the same when I’m flaring. The desire somewhat returns but the stomach may not be willing. Cannabis has not reduced the abdominal pressure I experience making eating hard to do.

      So basically I am going to have to use remicaid in a month because what I’m trying isn’t working including cannabis. I love cannabis it’s great but for remission, at least for me, it’s not doing it.. and I’ve been at it for many months with salves, balms, oils, edibles and just smoking it. Perhaps I am just at the point where I need more pharma meds to get this under control.

    5. Lauren says:

      I was diagnosed with colitis in 2004. a couple years ago they said they can’t tell if it’s crohn’s, colitis, or both. Just to maintain my disease requies a daily regimen of over 27 pills. That does not include when medications like steroids and antibiotics are thrown into the mix. Just one of the medicines is nearly $400 a month. They still do not always work or put me in remission.
      The last few months I have stopped all pills and started smoking a small amount of pot once a day before bedtime. in the time I was smoking regulary, I did not have a single flare up. I was able to eat normally and had no pain in my tummy. I ran out of pot 5 days ago. Three days ago my colitis flared up. I can’t eat due to the horrible tummy pain. I can’t even leave the house because I have to stay near a restroom.
      Pot is a godsend for people with this disease. It’s use for medicinal purposes is not legal in my state. I detest that I have to be treated like a criminal to use a drug that is effective in managing this disease. Would you rather smoke 1 bowl and be free of costly medications with unpleasant side effects or spend thousands of dollars and take more than 20 pills a day that aren’t even effective? I am not a criminal. It is criminal that people are being denied access to an effective and less harmful treatment option.

    6. Jason says:

      I have had stomach problems for years, i have lost a lot of weight at times because of the inability to eat. The stomach pain is sometimes very unbearable and since i don’t get a lot to eat i am very weak a lot of the time. For me its like i am a different person when i get to smoke, a person without pain, someone who can eat normal just like everybody else. They have yet to diagnose me, but continue to look. I have more tests this week and i am hoping something can be done. I am not a criminal, i just want to be okay.

    7. Anonymous says:

      Julian= Sponges are the first known that had the cannabinoid receptor, 200 million years ago+. Today, almost every animal has a (endo)cannabinoid system. Without which, if gone tomorrow, we would die. Mankind is bred into cannabinoid, it was not a conscious thought to become adaptive to cannabinoids and their use.
      After all, there is a reason Mj does not kill!

    8. stopthelies says:

      The feds/DEA used the argument of no medicinal properties to get it on schedule I.. so why no new lawsuits to change this, or remove it completely? Only big pharma fears this.. how long until the world looks at CO and WA and realizes legalization isn’t the end of the world.

      [Paul Armentano responds: There have been numerous legal actions pursued to remedy the federal scheduling issue, the latest being this one: http://norml.org/news/2013/01/31/court-rejects-challenge-to-the-prohibitive-classification-of-cannabis.%5D

    9. crohnsblazin420 says:

      Smoking/vaporizing does help extremely, I have had crohns for 21 years w/ extreme symptoms, two bowel resectionings leading to illeostomy, more fistulas than I can remember and rediculous wait loss, been on every drug offered including pain meds(which suck & harmful), one of the first in us to receive remicade(reps showed up to watch me receive it), and it only lasts so long like the rest, ingestion does work, but not straight off the plant, you needs fats to extract the THC from the bud like butter, if u choose not to smoke it, break it up very fine and simmer it in butter n add it to your foods, its one of the easiest methods, and there’s plenty of recipes out there. Ganja does work for crohns in multiple ways, and yes it is illegal in some states, like Florida, but screw em, I was arrested a month ago n really don’t care, yea it sux its on my record, but the 4 anal fistulas I had operated on one week later no one gave a shit about, or the five other operations with a combined 24 insitions do to the same reaccurring fistulas. Think anyone cared bout that, or the 45 lbs I lost,or how much it all cost me or what my illeostomy supplies cost,not at all,they just care bout how much $ they can make off ya, don’t know bout anyone else,” But I don’t do drugs!!!!” I just try to live a normal life.

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